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Breaking News

Tsunami to Strike Hawaii

Aired October 28, 2012 - 03:00   ET


COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN HOST: I'm Colleen McEdwards at CNN Center in Atlanta. We want to update you on the breaking news that we have been following. A tsunami is expected to hit Hawaii just about 90 minutes from now, a little less than 90 minutes from now.

A short time ago, i spoke to Gerard Fryer with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.


GERARD FRYER, PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER: This is a full coastal evacuation. This is the real deal. We don't expect the tsunami -- it won't be as bad as the tsunami from Japan back in 2011. But nevertheless, it's the genuine article. We're convince that had there will be flooding.


MCEDWARDS: All right. So people in Hawaii on the move. The tsunami was generated by a magnitude 7.7 earthquake off western Canada. And you are looking at a live look right now from Hawaii. Traffic is heavy, as you see on some of the main roadways as people try to make it out of the lower lying areas, into the evacuation areas and up into higher ground.

Some people can also do what's called a vertical evacuation. Just get to a higher floor on a building, a hotel, say, for example. But other people do need to get in that traffic and get out of the way.

In addition, a tsunami advisory, which is less serious than a warning has been issued for northern California and southern Oregon. But the main focus right now is right there, on Hawaii, where a tsunami warning is in place. Less than 90 minutes from now a succession of waves is expected to hit.

Let's get more on this. Karen McGinnis is standing by.

Karen, what's the latest?

KAREN MCGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right. We know that this tsunami warning was generated from that 7.7 magnitude earthquake just off the coast of British Columbia, just about the central coast. But it was about an hour or so before this warning, the tsunami warning was issued for Hawaii.

Now, we know that, coming up at approximately 10:28 local time -- so it's in the evening, going to be very difficult to see what the effects of that are. That is expected to be the beginning of tsunami activity. And the first wave may not be the highest wave by any means. But you may actually see the water recede from the coast before we start to see that rush of water.

It doesn't matter which facing beach you are, north, east, south or west. The tsunami waters will rush in and essentially engulf those islands -- meaning the wave will.

The reason there's not a warning for the coast of British Columbia and Alaska and the northwest -- there are advisories out for portions of those coasts -- is because they're so close to where it happened. So it doesn't have this long distance to kind of build that wave that is generated. But as you get close to shore, that wave is going to grow.

And right now, they're suggesting that it is going to be approximately one to two meters. Those are the estimates. Now, there are measuring devices across the Pacific, part of it is situated on the top. But then towards the bottom of the ocean, there is a measurement.

And so when that starts shaking, it sends that information up, which is then shot to a satellite and they make their estimates based on what they see from these information detectors that are on the bottom of the ocean.

That's why this went from no warning, no advisory to, all of a sudden, they were very concerned because these devices, these measuring devices were saying this looks more interesting than what our typical computer models are suggesting.

So a warning issued, a tsunami warning for all of the Hawaiian Islands. There's an advisory for most of the coast of British Columbia, much of the coast of Oregon and the northern coast of California. That's an advisory. So they're not expecting much of anything. But that 7.7 magnitude earthquake, probably, if it were very populated, which it isn't, they would have really felt that.

The depth on that was about 17 kilometers, they're saying. So not as shallow as we initially thought and not as deep as some of these earthquakes can be. But definitely it sent out a warning that we could see, this wave being generated across the Pacific and affect the Hawaiian Islands coming up in the next 90 minutes or so.

MCEDWARDS: Karen McGinnis, thank you very much. That quake certainly did shake the west coast of Canada. But the impact right now is being felt right here on the islands of Hawaii where people are on the move, heeding the sirens and the warnings that a tsunami is on its way.

It is only a little after 10:00 pm Saturday night there. And you're looking right now at Hawaii News Now -- CNN affiliate, of course, covering this, giving people the information they need to get on their way and get out of harm's way. Let's listen in.

STEPHANIE LUM, HAWAII NEWS NOW ANCHOR: Let's check in with Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Gerard Fryer.

KEAHI TUCKER, HAWAII NEWS NOW ANCHOR: Yes, Gerard Fryer. He is on the job. You know, they're working hard out there.

I remembered one thing you did, Steph, the first time we did this. You grabbed the phone book. I hadn't thought of it at the time. And when you did it, I thought, genius.

LUM: (Inaudible).

TUCKER: Because it's really what you need to know.

LUM: It is really easy. I mean, you just flip open. You have these colored pages here, all right here. And you can take a look at the inundation zones if you live in those areas, of course, you're going to want to head to higher grounds. Here we've got some Handy Maps as well. And Guy has been talking tonight about having those tsunami preparedness kits ready as well.

GUY HAGI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: (Inaudible) your survival kit, your tsunami warning kit, whatever it is, you should have it by now. And if you don't, it's not too late. But again, when you go through the market to take care of those things, do not hoard. That puts everybody else in danger.

And then you could do the classless thing later that I've seen people go back in. Return it after the event. So just get what you need for tonight.

So again, the tsunami warning is posted. That's the highest threat the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued. And that means a tsunami is on the way. It is imminent. But we're expecting it to be about the size of you know, five feet over in Kahului ,in Maui, as well as over in Hilo. So avoid driving tonight. Vertical evacuation.

If you're along the coastline, don't go in a car if you're in a high rise. You can get above the fourth floor. You should be fine, especially with the size of this tsunami. We're thinking somewhere between four and five feet above sea level.

Limit your communication, please. And then these are the things that you should be gathering. Gas, cash, food, water and, of course, medicine if you can. As far as what we can expect, this is what we're expecting: Kahului 5 feet, Hilo 4 feet. Again, this is at 10:28 later tonight. You can see smaller waves are expected everywhere else.

And like Ben was saying, it's not going to come in a series of waves like you think of when you're surfing. It is a big surge that comes in. And the first surge expected in at 10:28 might not be the biggest surge. There will be waves, hours after that. And the ocean will not be the same for maybe a couple of days with all kinds of strange currents, all kinds of weird tidal changes as well.

So definitely if you're along the coast, take precautions now. We're asking people to evacuate and evacuate as soon as you can, well ahead of that wave at 10:28. Steph, Keahi?

TUCKER: Guess who is evacuating right now? The Chaminade team staying at the Mauna Loa Hotel right there at the bay front in Hilo. They're on the way out of town. Their game has been canceled.

Not only that, we're hearing people are being evacuated from the Hilo airport and they've had some problems with their sirens over there not going off in the Kolekole Beach Park area. Keaukaha, Puna, a lot of that region not hearing those sirens. We were actually on the phone with state civil defense a little while ago. They're trying to figure out --

MCEDWARDS: All right. We are listening now to Hawaii News Now, CNN affiliate where you get the feeling they have been here before. They are used to these types of warnings. People are on the move getting out of the way. A tsunami is approaching. It is a little bit after 9:00 pm local time Saturday night. I said 10:00 earlier. I need to correct myself. A little after 9:00 pm local time.

And less than 90 minutes from now, the first of the waves is expected to hit. People are being advised to move up if they're in a tall building, move out if they are on the ground and on the roads. Traffic is terrible, as you can imagine. People taking this very, very seriously indeed.

Once again, it was a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the west coast of Canada that set a chain of events in motion that has culminated in a tsunami warning for Hawaii, a tsunami advisory for parts of Canada's coast, all the way up to Alaska and all the way down through Oregon and parts of California.

No imminent danger there, just an advisory. But it is Hawaii that people are watching out for right now.

We will keep on top of this here at CNN. We will update you in less than 20 minutes from now.

Right now we're going to take a short break, though, and go back to WORLD SPORT in progress. But more news coming up in just a few minutes.